Skip to main content

Full text of "The Site of Fort de Crèvecoeur"

See other formats




THE SITE 



*/ 



FORT de CREVECOEUR 




1925 



Printed by Authority ot the State of Illinois. 



1 w 










( 



\K 



V fth 







LI E> R.AFLY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY 

Of ILLINOIS 



977.35 
l£63s 
cop. 2 



Illinois Historical Surv 



Y 




•J'^ 



S, 



THE SITE 



of 



FORT de CREVECOEUR 






\ 







^'rvV:; •$*•■ 



1925 



Printed by Authority of the State of Illinois. 



ILLINOIS PRINTING CO., DANVILLE, ILL. 
(37081-500) 






r 7 
^ 






c^ 



5 
.2. 



THE SITE OF FORT de CREVECOEUR 

The committee to designate the site of Fort de Creve- 
coeur, appointed in accordance with an act of the General 
Assembly of the State of Illinois by the President of the 
Illinois State Historical Society, herewith presents its re- 
port. 

HISTORY OF FORT de CREVECOEUR 

In January, 1680, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, 
entered the string of small lakes opposite and above the 
modern city of Peoria and encamped at an Indian village, 
called Pimiteoui, situated on the site of modern Averyville. 
On January 15, La Salle selected the position for the fort 
and began building it at once. It was finished in a few 
weeks. On March 1, La Salle himself started on a return 
journey to the East, and Father Hennepin the day before 
began his wanderings up the Mississippi River. Some days 
later Tonti received an order, sent back by La Salle, to 
inspect Starved Rock as a possible site for a permanent 
fort. During Tonti's absence sometime in April the troop- 
ers, left at Fort de Crevecoeur, demolished the fort and 
deserted. 1 The site was never again occupied except for a 
few days. Thus the history of Fort de Crevecoeur ex- 
tends over a period of only about three months. Its im- 
portance lies in the fact that it was the first public building 
erected by white men within the boundaries of the modern 
state of Illinois and the first fort built in the West by the 
French. Its site is, therefore, a monument to the beginning 
of the occupation of the Mississippi Valley by men of 
European birth. 



> The date of the destruction of Fort de Crevecoeur may be found in Margry; Decouvertes 
et Etablissements des Frart(ais, I, 520. 



o 



■ : I 



THE SOURCES OF INFORMATION 

The problem concerning the site of the fort is a purely 
historical one, and its solution can be accomplished only by 
the careful collection of all information written by contem- 
poraries that may have come down to our time. After this 
operation of collection was completed, the committee found 
that the location of the approximate site of the fort was 
not difficult. Of the men who were participants in the 
building of Fort de Crevecoeur, four have written concern- 
ing it; and their accounts have been preserved. First of all 
there is La Salle himself, whose statements must be accepted 
as being of greater value than those of all others. Three 
of La Salle's companions who were present at the time of 
the building, Henri de Tonti, Father Louis Hennepin, and 
Father Zenobe Membre, have also left a record of their 
experiences. 

La Salle's accounts are as follows: A letter addressed 
to one of his associates containing an account of the ex- 
plorer's activities during the year 1679 to September 29, 

1680, printed by Pierre Margry, in his Decouvertes et Etab- 
lissements des Francais dans I'Ouest et dans le Sud de 
VAmerique Septentrionale, etc., II, 32ff; a similar letter, 
covering the period August 22, 1680, to the autumn of 

1681, printed in the same, II, 115ff; a letter dated August 
22, 1682, in the same, II, 212ff ; a description of the Illinois 
River, no date, in the same, II, 164ff. 

Besides these letters of La Salle there is the "Relation 
Officielle de l'Entreprise de Cavelier de la Salle" ("Official 
Account of the Enterprise of Cavelier de la Salle"), the 
authorship of which is discussed on a later page. It is 
printed in Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements des Fran- 
gais, I, 435ff. 

Henri de Tonti, the faithful lieutenant of La Salle, wrote 
two accounts of his journeyings; one is printed in Margry, 
Decouvertes et Etablissements des Francais, I, 573ff; the 



second may be consulted in the Illinois Historical Collec- 
tions, I, 128ff. In neither account is there information that 
is of assistance to this investigation. 

Father Zenobe Membre, a Recollect priest and compan- 
ion of La Salle, wrote an account of his journeyings. This 
is embodied in Le Clercq, Etablissement de la Foi, published 
at Paris, 1691, a scarce volume now and most easily con- 
sulted in the translation by John D. Gilmary Shea. 

Father Louis Hennepin, a Recollect friar, has won for 
himself an evil reputation by wrongly claiming for himself 
the glory of first voyaging to the mouth of the Mississippi 
River. This claim was made several years after the publi- 
cation of his first book and does not invalidate anything he 
may have written concerning Fort de Crevecoeur. Still La 
Salle had an unfavorable opinion of him, which he ex- 
pressed as follows: "He never fails to exaggerate every- 
thing; it is his character. . . . He speaks more in conform- 
ity with what he wishes than what he knows." 2 Hennepin's 
first volume, entitled Description de la Louisiane nouvelle- 
ment decouverte au Sud 'oiiest de la Nouvelle France, was 
published in Paris, 1683. His second work, including the 
first with additions, was entitled Nouvelle Decouverte d'un 
tres grand Pays Situe dans V Amerique, etc. This last may 
be most easily examined in the composite English edition of 
1698 reprinted by Reuben G. Thwaites, in 1903, with the 
title: A New Discovery of a Vast Country in America, by 
Father Louis Hennepin. 

All passages from the foregoing works containing in- 
formation about the site of Fort de Crevecoeur will be 
found reproduced in full in the Appendices to this report; 
the original French with translation is printed when essen- 
tial. 

A sixth source of information is found in the contempo- 
rary maps drawn by Jean Baptiste Louis Franquelin, an in- 
habitant of Canada during these years. He eagerly col- 



2 Margry, Decouvcrtes el Etablissements des Franfais, II, 259. 



lected all information concerning the vast West and in- 
serted it on his map, which was issued in several editions. 
Franquelin was greatly interested in the explorations of 
La Salle and must have received from his own lips much of 
the information he incorporated on his map. 

The first map, which was probably the work of Franque- 
lin, showing the site of Fort de Crevecoeur is entitled, 
"Carte de l'Amerique Septentrionale et partie Meridionale 
. . .avec les nouvelles decouvertes de la Riviere Mississippi 
ou Colbert." (No name, no date). The lower Mississippi 
is entirely omitted; and Francis Parkman, the historian, in- 
fers that it was the work of Franquelin and was made in 
1682 or 1683 before the geographer heard of La Salle's 
voyage to the Gulf of Mexico. 3 



3 Parkman, La Salle (ed. 1905), 482. The map is reproduced in outline in Winsor, Narrative 
and Critical History, IV, 227. 




Franquelin's map, 1682 



8 

When La Salle returned from the West in 1683 on his 
way to Paris, he gave Franquelin much more complete in- 
formation concerning the Illinois River Valley. It is quite 
possible that La Salle himself carried the drawing to Paris, 
where it was dated 1684. The original map has been lost, 
but Francis Parkman, before this occurred, had a careful 
copy of it made; and this latter is now in the Harvard Col- 
lege library. A reproduction of this important Franquelin 
map is printed by Reuben G. Thwaites in his edition of the 
Jesuit Relations, volume 63. Reproductions of parts of 
both these maps by Franquelin will be found in this report. 

LAKE PIMITEOUI 

On January 1, 1680, La Salle and his party canoed along 
a "little lake" called Pimiteoui, and landed at a village in- 
habited by Illinois Indians, also named Pimiteoui, where 
they established themselves for a few days. Since the 
establishment of the site of Fort de Crevecoeur depends on 
the determination of the position of this Indian village and 
the general character of Lake Pimiteoui, the topography as 
it presented itself to the eyes of La Salle must be clearly 
described. 

Fortunately there exists an excellent description of the 
lake by La Salle himself. The translation is here given in 
full; the original French may be found in Appendix I, A: 

"Five leagues lower one finds the river of Moingoane, 
which flows through a beautiful prairie which one can see 
from the river. Seven leagues lower is the little lake of 
Pimiteoui, seven to eight leagues in length and one to two 
leagues in width at its widest place, composed, as it were, 
of three little lakes which communicate with each other by 
as many straits. The first and the most northerly is bor- 
dered, on the west, by a beautiful prairie, and on the east by 
a swampy woods, which extends to the foot of some 
mountains covered with timber which run along these three 
small lakes on the east and southeast sides. The little lake, 



or the lake in the middle, also has swampy land on the west, 
then some rather high hills, and thirdly a beautiful prairie; 
then the river narrows and continues at the same width up 
to another small lake between two chains of hills covered 
with timber, from which it is more or less distant, leaving 
between them and its bed a great interval of woods inter- 
spersed with marshes which are inundated entirely during 
flood waters. As far as this second lake one finds prairies 
only once. About a league below Pimiteoui, at the left in 
descending, the border of the river is, moreover, everywhere 
covered with timber. The shore is very much more elevated 
than the depth [farther inland]. The land always slopes 
downward to the foot of the hills where the waterfalls form 
some great marshes; these are full of fish of all kinds, be- 
cause the flooded river rises a great deal, in the spring, 
above this kind of wood-covered bank which borders it and 
fills up these marshes; the fish, which find a great deal to eat 
there, stop in them; and when the river, having returned 
into its bed, can no longer go forth because of the height of 
its banks, the Indians build drains there, in the summer, 
by means of which they drain these marshes, where they 
catch as many fish as they wish." 

We have also a description of the lake in Hennepin's 
New Discovery, (Appendix V, B). He writes: "At the 
end of the fourth day of the year we crossed a little lake, in 
length about seven leagues and in width one, named 
Pimiteoui, which signifies in their language that there is in 
this place an abundance of fat beasts. The Sieur de la 
Salle judged by the astrolabe that the latitude was thirty- 
three degrees forty-five minutes. This lake is very remark- 
able because the river of the Illinois although it freezes as 
far as there — this lasts only four or five weeks and happens 
only rarely — is never frozen from this place down to its 
discharge into the Mississippi." 

La Salle's rather detailed description of the three ex- 
pansions of the Illinois River into three "lakes" extending 
from Chillicothe to opposite Peoria corresponds exactly to 



10 

present-day conditions. The general contour of the lakes 
can have undergone very little change, confined between two 
lines of bluffs as the river is. From the streams pouring 
down the ravines, deposits have been constantly made along 
the shores, modifying the outlines within circumscribed 
limits; but for the purpose of this discussion such minor 
changes may be discounted, since the determination of the 
site of the fort is, in the opinion of the committee, not af- 
fected very materially by them. 4 

La Salle states that the length of Lake Pimiteoui, com- 
posed of three lakes, was seven or eight leagues. Evidently 
he did not make a careful measurement of the distance. 
Father Hennepin writes that the distance was seven leagues. 
The French league is 2.49 miles; and the three lakes there- 
fore extended, according to the reckoning of the explorers, 
over a distance of 17V2 or 20 miles. The present length 
of the lakes from Chillicothe to the foot of the lake opposite 
Peoria, as measured on the United States Geological Sur- 
vey map, is about 19 miles. La Salle's estimate was, there- 
fore, approximately correct. 

The translation of La Salle's description of the lakes 
needs some elucidation. In writing of the middle lake he 
calls it the "little lake — or the lake in the middle." This 
may be interpreted as the smallest of the three, but not 
necessarily, for La Salle calls Lake Pimiteoui itself a "little 
lake"; and this limiting adjective attached to the middle 
lake does not convey an idea of comparison any more than 
in the case of the whole lake. If it had been the intention 
to write "the smallest lake," the expression would have 
been "le plus petit". La Salle describes the land bordering 
the little lake in the following words: "Le petit lac ou lac 
du milieu a auss'y des pays noyez a l'ouest et puis des cos- 
teaux assez hauts, et le troisiesme une belle campagne." 



4 For an excellent discussion of the geology of the region see United States Geological 
Survey, Bulletin 506, Geology and Mineral Resources of the Peoria Quadrangle, Illinois, by J. A. 
Udden. The map in the pocket should be consulted. 



11 



MCSSV/LLg 




7 LAKE 
P£OfVA 

From V.$, 

7o/j oy r ftp ft tcaL 

«» | 1 ■ — ■ ■ .l. . . ) l.l . I »'^ ' ■ ■■ ■' ■■ !■ 



12 

We translate this as follows: "The little lake, or lake in 
the middle, also has swampy land on the west, then some 
rather high hills, and thirdly a beautiful prairie." It is in- 
correct to interpret this last phrase as meaning and "the 
third lake has a beautiful prairie", as a hasty reader might 
do. In the first place no beautiful prairie borders any of 
the lakes except the upper; secondly there is evidently the 
intention of describing a series of land formations from the 
lake's edge, namely, in the first place, "marshy land"; sec- 
ondly, "bluffs"; and thirdly, beyond the bluffs, "a prairie". 
The final argument supporting this interpretation is that 
La Salle continues his narrative by describing the third lake 
which lay beyond the narrows; this lower or third lake of 
La Salle's Lake Pimiteoui is the one lying opposite Peoria 
and is called today Peoria Lake. La Salle's estimate of 
seven or eight leagues as the extent of the three lakes 
proves conclusively that this lower lake was included in his 
description. 



THE INDIAN VILLAGE OF PIMITEOUI 

The next point to establish is the site of the Indian vil- 
lage also called Pimiteoui. This offers almost no difficulty, 
and there is general agreement among investigators. La 
Salle writes (Appendix I, B) : "We travelled four days 
toward the south quarter of the southwest along this river 
and arrived, on January 5, at the place which the savages 
call, in their language, Pimiteoui. On the night before, 
while crossing a small lake, we had perceived some smoke; 
and that day at nine o'clock in the morning, we found on 
two shores of the river a quantity of pirogues and saw some 
great clouds of smoke which issued forth from eighty huts 
filled with savages." Father Zenobe Membre (Appendix 
IV, A) writes: "They left it on the 1st of January, 1680, 
and by the 4th were thirty leagues lower down amid the 
camp of the Illinois; they were encamped on both sides of 
the river, which is very narrow there, but very near there 



13 

forms a lake about seven leagues long and one wide, called 
Pimiteoui." 

By general agreement among those who have investi- 
gated the conditions existing in the neighborhood at the 
time of La Salle, this village of Pimiteoui is placed on the 
western side of the river at the narrows between the second 
and the lowest lake; this is where the village of Averyville 
stands today. It is possible to designate the site more 
closely. In 1683 La Salle built 'Fort St. Louis on Starved 
Rock. After La Salle's death his lieutenants, La Forest 
and Tonti, petitioned for the cession of land and rights 
which had been made to their former commander; and 
their petition was granted in 1690. Tonti, during the win- 
ter of 1690-1691, abandoned Starved Rock and built Fort 
St. Louis at the village of Pimiteoui and shortly afterwards 
the Jesuits followed him to the same place. Here at 
Pimiteoui, or Pimitoui as it was then called, the French 
maintained a fort until 1763, when they hauled down the 
flag which had floated — though not continuously — over the 
middle Illinois River Valley from the time La Salle built 
Fort de Crevecoeur until France abandoned the purpose of 
building an empire in the Mississippi Valley. The ruins of 
the French fort, called sometimes Fort St. Louis and some- 
times Fort Pimitoui were seen by many people living in 
quite recent times. Descriptions place the site of the fort 
on the present-day Catherine Street in Averyville. In this 
neighborhood was the ancient Indian village of Pimiteoui. 5 



6 For an account of Fort Pimiteoui see Alvord, The Illinois Country (Illinois Centennia i 
History, Volume I) , 89; on the ruins of the old fort, see Bateman and Selby, Historical Encyclo~ 
pedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Pt. II, 19. 



14 

THE SELECTION OF THE SITE OF FORT de 

CR&VECOEUR 

On January 15, 1680, La Salle set out from Pimiteoui to 
build a fort as a protection to his men and property from 
possible attacks from the Iroquois. Father Hennepin 
writes that it was on that day that he and La Salle selected 
the site. La Salle is the better authority and it is most 
probable that during his stay at Pimiteoui the leader had 
explored the environs with a view of selecting the best site 
for his proposed fortification. The accounts of the move- 
ment from the Indian village to the site do not aid us much 
in our search. La Salle himself writes (Appendix I, C) 
that a thaw had "rendered the river free from ice from 
Pimiteoui as far as there", i. e., the site of the fort, Father 
Hennepin states that the thaw had freed the river from ice 
below the village. From these passages it is evident that 
the fort was situated downstream. 

Since a fairly definite location of Fort de Crevecoeur is 
found in the maps by Franquelin, the committee prefer to 
bring in their testimony at this time. The first map was 
made in 1682 or 1683 presumably before news of La Salle's 
successful voyage to the mouth of the Mississippi in the 
year 1682 had reached Canada. Franquelin may have seen 
La Salle on his hasty trip east in 1680; and if such was the 
case, Franquelin's location of the fort on this earlier edition 
of his map was made from the most direct source of infor- 
mation. There can be no question, however, that before 
the edition of his map drawn in 1684, Franquelin conferred 
with La Salle, for in it the situation in the Illinois valley is 
reproduced in the greatest detail. We have thus the very 
best and most indubitable testimony in the map of 1684. 

If the reader will consult the reproductions of parts of 
these two maps by Franquelin, he will see that the geog- 
rapher has not attempted to separate the three lakes form- 
ing Lake Pimiteoui; this would have been difficult on a map 



15 




Franquelin's map, 1684 



16 

of the size covering such an extent of territory. He does, 
however, in both cases place Fort de Crevecoeur on the 
southern river bank below the lake. 

The committee are unanimously of the opinion that the 
testimony of these maps concerning the site of Fort de 
Crevecoeur is most important, and that all passages from 
the written accounts that seemingly contradict this testi- 
mony must be interpreted in conformity with it or discarded 
as valueless. In accordance with the maps, the site of Fort 
de Crevecoeur must be sought on the narrows of the river 
south of the lower end of Peoria Lake. All the sites situ- 
ated on the bank of the lake that have been claimed by 
various investigators may, therefore, be disregarded. 

There are passages from contemporary written accounts 
that indicate the same position and contain information 
that make it possible to designate more definitely the site 
of the fort. The most important passages of this sort con- 
cern the beginning of La Salle's return journey to Fort 
Frontenac in March, 1680. La Salle himself writes (Ap- 
pendix I, E) : "I embarked with six Frenchmen and a sav- 
age in two canoes, the river being free before the fort; but 
we had not travelled an hour when we found it frozen. I 
believe that the little current that was present in that part 
was the cause of the ice remaining there so long; and not 
wishing to part with my canoes that I wished to send back 
to the fort loaded with Indian corn, when I should arrive 
at the village, I encouraged my men to hope that at the end 
of the frozen lake the current would have rotted the ice 
and we should have a free passage." He then had sleds 
made and they dragged their canoes as far as the Indian 
village at modern Utica. 

The passage does not inform us clearly how far they 
canoed on the narrower river nor how soon upon entering 
the lake they struck ice. The explorers had noticed that the 
water of the Illinois river, however, froze as far as the 



17 

lower end of the lake, but below the lake it was never 
frozen. 6 The canoes would have travelled in less than an 
hour between two and a half to three miles. From the 
passage, therefore, some idea of the site of the fort is given. 
It was a mile or two or more below the lower end of the 
lake. 

There exists a narrative of La Salle's explorations dur- 
ing the years 1679 and 1681, which is published by Pierre 
Margry (Appendix, II, B) under the title of "Official Ac- 
count of the Enterprise of Cavelier de la Salle." Who was 
the author is uncertain. Perhaps it was written by La Salle 
himself or more probably by a friend in Paris who drew 
from La Salle's letters, some of which have not been pre- 
served, or else obtained his information from conversations 
with the explorer. A comparison of this narrative with 
that by Hennepin proves that one must have been derived 
very directly from the other; in fact there can be no doubt 
of plagiarism by one or the other. In the minds of the 
committee, after comparing the two, Father Hennepin is 
the plagiarist. Even in the passages quoted in the appendix 
of this report, (Appendices II, A and III, C), the careless- 
ness of the friar as a copyist is evident. 

The narrative of La Salle's canoe trip up the river in 
this "Official Account" adds the following information: 
"The current, rather rapid, kept the river near the fort 
free from ice; but after a league (two and one-half miles) 
of navigation and at the entrance of an enlargement, or of 
a lake, some eight leagues long, that the river forms, they 
found it frozen." The statement that they travelled a 
league before reaching the lake is not found in La Salle's 
letter. Furthermore it is inconceivable that the writer 
could have had any purpose to serve in falsifying the ac- 
count of this particular episode. The information is given 



"Both Father Membre and Father Hennepin state this, but the latter was probablv follow- 
ing the former. Le Clereq, Establishment of the Faith, II. 119; Henrepin, New Discovery, 
(Thwaites ed.) I, 154. Both passages in Appendix of this report. 



18 

with such certainty that we must conclude that the writer 
himself knew the situation of the fort or else had what he 
regarded as reliable authority for the statement. 

A third passage from one of La Salle's letters, which 
may be misinterpreted and has been used by all those in- 
vestigators who have attempted to locate the site of the 
fort on Peoria Lake, is easily understood in the light of what 
has already been proved. On August 22, 1682, in a letter 
to a friend he describes the Illinois River and uses the fol- 
lowing expression: (Appendix, I, D) "But at various 
places, as at Pimiteoui, a league to the east of Crevecoeur, 
and at two or three other times below, it (the river) is 
enlarged to one or two leagues." There might be some 
doubt as to whether La Salle meant the lake or the village 
of Pimiteoui, but since other testimony locates the fort 
about a league south of the enlargement, he evidently had 
the lake in mind. The historian finds many difficulties in 
interpreting La Salle's written statement, since he was not 
always clear in his expressions and sometimes was very care- 
less; in two places he writes of "Pimiteoui, or Crevecoeur,*' 
as if the two places were identical. 7 Of course in describ- 
ing the whole Mississippi Valley the identifying of two 
places only a few miles apart may be excusable. 

The lower end of Peoria Lake has probably undergone 
greater changes since 1680 than any other part of the water 
system composing the three enlargements of the river which 
La Salle called Lake Pimiteoui, for here the river valley 
has received the wash from Farm creek on the south and 
Kickapoo creek on the north. The flat land has been 
continuously built up by the detritus which these carry, so 
that the end of the lake lies today farther up stream than 
in the time of La Salle. The members of the committee 
realize that by the action of the water there has been lost 
a fixed and definite point from which to measure the two 
miles and a half down stream. Still this is not such an im- 



7 Margry, Decouvertes el Elablissemcnts des Franfais, II, 133, 248. 



19 

portant loss, since the distances given by La Salle are evi- 
dently only approximate. When he said a league, he did 
not anticipate that future historians would attempt to check 
his estimate by a surveyor's chain. 

After a careful consideration of these three passages, 
written either by La Salle or by one with more explicit 
information derived from the explorer than is available to- 
day, the members of the committee are unanimously of the 
opinion that the site of Fort de Crevecoeur was in the 
neighborhood of Wesley. This opinion is supported by 
hoary tradition that has been passed down from generation 
to generation of Peorians and people of the environs. Al- 
though the committee place little reliance on unverified tra- 
dition, it is satisfying to find that the site discovered by 
careful analysis of the historical sources coincides with 
popular memory. Until further information on this subject 
is obtained the committee prefer not to designate the exact 
spot of La Salle's fort. 

J. C. THOMPSON, 
Chairman of Committee. 



20 



FINAL REPORT 

Crevecoeur is a proper name and should be printed as 
one word. The fort erected on the eastern bank of the 
Illinois river by La Salle in 1680 was so called in conse- 
quence of the recent destruction of Fort de Crevecoeur in 
the Netherlands by Louis XIV, who captured that strong- 
hold in 1672. There is proof that Henri de Tonti was 
present at this engagement. 

Fort de Crevecoeur was not the first habitation es- 
tablished within what are now the corporate limits of 
Illinois. That favor must be accorded to Father Mar- 
quette's winter cabin, which rested two leagues from the 
lake on the northern bank of the west fork of the south 
branch of the Chicago river. It was constructed during the 
winter of 1674-1675. 

Father Marquette was driven from his cabin by flood 
waters in the spring of 1675 due to the break up of the ice 
in the Des Plaines river. He secured his effects in trees 
and took refuge upon a hillock nearby. Shortly thereafter 
he crossed the portage and proceeded by canoe on his voy- 
age to the mission of the Cascasquias. 

The site of Fort de Crevecoeur was selecteed by La Salle 
Jan. 15, 1680. It was placed in command of Henri de 
Tonti March 1, 1680, when La Salle departed on his weary 
journey of sixty-five days to Fort Frontenac. It was de- 
serted by its garrison in April, 1680, after Tonti had re- 
paired to Starved Rock pursuant to an order issued by 
La Salle. It was damaged by fire set by the Iroquois in 
October, 1680. Its ruins were visited in February, 1682, 
by Father Membre who attended La Salle on his voyage of 
discovery. Fort de Crevecoeur was associated intimately 
with the two most daring achievements of La Salle: (1) 
the march of five hundred leagues to Fort Fontenac in 1680 
and (2) the exploration of the Mississippi river in 1682. 

Fort de Crevecoeur was built upon the termination of a 
ridge at a distance from the river which extended to the 



21 

base of the ridge during severe rains. This is the time and 
place to state that the fort rested near the bank of the 
river. There is nothing in the record to indicate that the 
fort stood near the shore of the lake. It was defended on 
one side by the river; that is to say, the side facing the 
stream was abrupt enough to be regarded as inclosed. Two 
wide and deep ravines fortified two other sides. A trench 
was excavated in the rear uniting the two ravines, thus 
forming an irregular square surmounted by a natural pla- 
teau. The location of the trench is plainly visible. 

The prelimniary report is an assembly of source ma- 
terials that cannot be questioned, to which attention is 
invited. It includes, among other things, three reproduc- 
tions of original maps together with the printed testimony 
of the four men — Hennepin, La Salle, Membre and Tonti — 
who were identified with the fort, and who left their im- 
pressions concerning it. We must be bound by this record. 

Fort de Crevecoeur stood about one league downstream 
from Peoria lake. The record is too lengthy to be inserted 
here but ( 1 ) La Salle had not travelled an hour by canoe, 
when he found the lake frozen; (2) after a league of navi- 
gation, they found the lake covered with ice; (3) the lake — 
a league to the east of Crevecoeur; (4) the maps of Fran- 
quelin, 1682 and 1684, place the fort on the eastern bank 
of the river below the lake. 

The preliminary report was returned before a final 
judgment was reached. It does not purport to fix the exact 
site of Fort de Crevecoeur. It determines only the neigh- 
borhood, a league below the lake, that includes three sites 
to be considered: (1) the Wesley site; (2) the Lagron 
site; and (3) the site chosen by the Daughters of the 
American Revolution. All other sites may be disregarded. 

Decisions are painful. But we find that the river extended 
to the base of the cliff during severe rains. This would 
eliminate the Wesley site, the tract of land between the 
foot-hills and the river now occupied by the recently incorpo- 
rated Village of Crevecoeur. 



22 

The brief submitted by Mr. Lagron is clear and consist- 
ent, but the formation so particularly described no longer 
exists. Its area is traversed by the right of way of the Erie 
road and is not available. The brief will repay a most 
careful study. 

The only location that meets with the essential require- 
ments of the record — the geographical situation — the com- 
manding position — the abrupt front — the two wide and 
deep ravines — the trench — the irregular square — the natural 
plateau — and last but not least, the traditions — is the site 
chosen by the Daughters of the American Revolution. This 
is our best judgment. If it is not the true site, we earnestly 
recommend it as the most suitable emplacement for the 
marker until future generations shall find out the right. 

OTTO L. SCHMIDT, 

President Illinois State Historical Society. 

JESSIE PALMER WEBER, 
Secretary Illinois State Historical Society. 

J. C. THOMPSON, 

Chairman of Committee. 



23 
APPENDICES 

APPENDIX I. LA SALLE'S TESTIMONY 

A: La Salle's Description of Lake Pimiteoui. From 
Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements des Fran- 
cais, II, 177-178. 

On trouve cinq lieues plus bas celle des Moingoane, qui 
traverse une belle campagne qu'on descouvre de la riviere. 
Sept lieues plus bas est le petit lac de Pimiteoui, long de 
sept a huit lieues et large de une a deux par le plus large, 
compose comme de trois petits lacs qui s'entre-communi- 
quent par autant de destroits. Le premier et le plus sep- 
tentrional est borde, a l'ouest, d'une belle campagne, et, a 
Test, de bois noyez qui s'estendent jusqu'au pied des mon- 
tagnes couvertes de bois qui regnent tout le long de ces trois 
petits lacs du coste de Test et du sud-est. Le petit lac ou 
lac du milieu a aussy des pays noyez a l'ouest et puis des 
costeaux assez hauts, et le troisiesme une belle campagne, 
puis la riviere se retrecit et continue egalement large jusqu'a 
un autre petit lac entre deux chaisnes de costeaux couverts 
de bois, dont elle s'esloigne parfois plus et parfois moins, 
laissant entre eux et son lit un grand intervalle de bois entre- 
coupe de marais qui inondent entierement dans les des- 
bordemens des eaux. On ne trouve jusqu'a ce second lac 
qu'une fois les campagnes. Environ une lieue audessous de 
Pimiteoui, a gauche en descendant, le bordage de la riviere 
est partout ailleurs couvert de bois. L'escore de la terre est 
beaucoup plus releve que la profondeur, qui va tousjours 
en baissant jusqu'au pied des costeaux, dont les esgouts 
forment de grands marais qui sont pleins de poissons de 
toute sorte, parceque, la riviere desbordee surmontant de 
beaucoup, le printemps, cette espece de chaussee couverte 
de bois qui la borde et remplissant ces marais, le poisson, qui 
y trouve beaucoup a manger, s'y arreste, et lorsque la 
diviere, rentree dans son lit, ne peut plus en sortir a cause 



24 

de la hauteur du bordage, les Sauvages y font des saignees 
Teste, par le moyen desquelles ils assechen ces marais, ou ils 
prennent autant de poissons qu'ils veulent. 

[Translation] 

Five leagues lower one finds the river Moingoane, 
which flows through a beautiful prairie which one can see 
from the river. Seven leagues lower is the little lake of 
Pimiteoui, seven to eight leagues in length and one to two 
leagues in width at its widest place, composed, as it were, 
of three little lakes which communicate with each other by 
as many straits. The first and the most northerly is 
bordered, on the west, by a beautiful prairie, and on the 
east by a swampy woods which extends to the foot of some 
mountains covered with timber which run along these three 
small lakes on the east and southeast sides. The little lake, 
or the lake in the middle, also has swampy land on the west, 
then some rather high hills, and thirdly a beautiful prairie; 
then the river narrows and continues at the same width up 
to another small lake between two chains of hills covered 
with timber, from which it is more or less distant, leaving 
between them and its bed a great interval of woods inter- 
spersed with marshes which are inundated entirely during 
flood waters. As far as this second lake one finds prairies 
only once. About a league below Pimiteoui, at the left in 
descending, the border of the river is, moreover, every- 
where covered with timber. The shore is very much more 
elevated than the depth [farther inland]. The land always 
slopes downward to the foot of the hills where the water- 
falls form some great marshes; these are full of fish of all 
kinds, because the flooded river rises a great deal, in the 
spring, above this kind of wood-covered bank which borders 
it and fills up these marshes; the fish, which find a great deal 
to eat there, stop in them; and when the river, having 
returned into its bed, can no longer go forth because of the 
height of its banks, the Indians build drains there, in the 



25 

summer, by means of which they drain these marshes, 
where they catch as many fish as they wish. 

B : La Salle's account of the village of Pimiteoui. From 
Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements des Fran- 
cats, II, 37-38. 

Nous marchasmes quatre journees vers le sud-quart de 
sud-ouest le long de cette riviere et arrivasmes le cinquiesme 
de Janvier au lieu que les Sauvages appellent en leur langue 
Pimiteoui. Nous avions aperqeu, des la veille, des fumees en 
traversant un petit lac; et ce jour-la sur les neuf heures du 
matin, nous trouvasmes des deux costez de la riviere quan- 
tite de pirogues et vismes de grandes fumees qui sortoient 
de quatre-vingts cabanes pleines de Sauvages que nous des- 
couvrismes les premiers et qui ne nous aperceurent qu'apres 
que nous eusmes double la pointe derriere laquelle ils estoi- 
ent campez a demy-portee de fusil. Nous estions dans huit 
canots sur une ligne, nous laissant aller au courant de l'eau 
et tenant nos armes en main. 

[Translation] 

We travelled four days toward the south quarter of the 
southwest along this river and arrived, on January 5, at the 
place which the savages called, in their language, Pimiteoui. 
On the night before, while crossing a small lake, we had per- 
ceived some smoke; and that day at nine o'clock in the 
morning, we found on two shores of the river, a quantity of 
pirogues and saw some great clouds of smoke which issued 
forth from eighty huts filled with savages whom we were 
the first to discover and who only perceived us after we 
had doubled the point behind which they were camping 
within half a gun shot. We were in eight canoes drawn up 
in a line, letting ourselves float with the current of the 
water and holding our arms in hand. 



26 

C : La Salle's Description of Fort de Crevecoeur. 
From Margry, Decouvertes et Etablissements des 
Francais, II, 48-49. 

Je dis ces sortes de raisons a ceux qui me restoient pour 
les encourager a entreprendre volontiers le travail de cette 
fortification, qui devoit estre grand pour si peu de monde. 
lis s'y resolurent tous de bonne grace, et nous rendismes au 
lieu que j'avois destine, le 15 Janvier, sur le soir, un grand 
degel, qui survint a propos, ayant rendu la riviere libre 
depuis Pimiteoui jusques la. C'estoit un petit tertre 
esloigne du bord de la riviere d'environ trois arpents, 
jusques au pied duquel elle se repandoit toutes les fois qu'il 
tomboit beaucoup de pluye. Deux ravines larges et pro- 
fondes enfermoient deux autres costez, et le quartiesme a 
moitie, que je fis achever de fermer par un fosse qui joignoit 
les deux ravines. Je fis border l'autre coste des ravines de 
bons chevaux de frise, escarper le penchant du tertre tout 
autour, et de la terre qu'on en tiroit je fis faire sur la 
hauteur un parapet capable de couvrir un homme, le tout 
revestu depuis le pied du tertre jusqu'au haut du parapet de 
grands madriers, dont le bas estoit en coulisse entre de 
grandes pieces de bois qui regnoient tout autour du bas de 
l'eminence, et le haut des madriers arreste par d'autres 
grandes traverses retenues a tenons et a mortoises par 
d'autres pieces de bois qui sortoient de l'espaisseur du para- 
pet. Au devant de cet ouvrage je fis planter partout des 
pieux pointus de vingt-cinq pieds de haut, d'un pied de 
diametre, enfoncez de trois pieds dans terre, chevillez aux 
traverses qui retenoient le haut des madriers avec une fraise 
au haut de deux pieds et demy de long pour empescher la 
surprise. Je laissay la figure qu'avoit ce platon, qui quoyque 
irreguliere, ne laissoit pas d'estre assez bien flanquee contre 
des Sauvages; je fis faire deux logemens pour mes gens dans 
deux des angles flanquants pour estre tous postez en cas 
d'attaque, le moyen fait de grosses pieces de bois a 
Tespreuve du mousquet, dans le troisiesme la forge faite de 



27 

mesme matiere le long de la courtine qui regarde le bois, le 
logis des Recollects dans le quatriesme angle, et fis placer 
ma tente et celle du sieur Tonty dans le milieu de la place. 

[Translation] 

I gave these kinds of reasons to those who remained with 
me in order to encourage them to undertake willingly the 
work of this fortification, which was bound to be heavy for 
so small a number of people. They all agreed to it with 
good grace, and we repaired to the place that I had 
destined. On January 15, toward evening a great thaw, 
which opportunely occurred, rendered the river free from ice 
from Pimiteoui as far as there [the place destined]. It was 
a little hillock about 540 feet from the bank of the river; 
up to the foot of the hillock the river expanded every time 
that there fell a heavy rain. Two wide and deep ravines 
shut in two other sides and one-half of the fourth, which 
I caused to be closed completely by a ditch joining the two 
ravines. I caused the outer edge of the ravines to be bor- 
dered with good chevaux-de-frise, the slopes of the hillock 
to be cut down all around, and with the earth thus excavated 
I caused to be built on the top a parapet capable of covering 
a man, the whole covered from the foot of the hillock to 
the top of the parapet with long madriers (beams), the 
lower ends of which were in a groove between great pieces 
of wood which extended all around the foot of the eleva- 
tion; and I caused the top of these madriers to be fastened 
by other long cross-beams held in place by tenons and 
mortises with other pieces of wood that projected through 
the parapet. In front of this work I caused to be planted, 
everywhere, some pointed stakes twenty-five feet in height, 
one foot in diameter, driven three feet in the ground, 
pegged to the cross-beams that fastened the top of the 
madriers and provided with a f raise at the top 2\U feet 
long to prevent surprise. I did not change the shape of this 
plateau which, though irregular, was sufficiently well flanked 
against the savages. I caused two lodgments to be built 



28 

for my men in two of the flanking angles in order that 
they be ready in case of attack; the middle was made of 
large pieces of musket proof timber; in the third angle the 
forge, made of the same material, was placed along the 
curtain which faced the wood. The lodging of the Recol- 
lects was in the fourth angle, and I had my tent and that of 
the sieur de Tonti stationed in the center of the place. 

D : La Salle's Description of the Illinois River, August 
22, 1682. From Margry, Decouvertes et Etablisse- 
ments des Francais, II, 247. 

La riviere Teakiki est presque tousjours egalement 

large pendant ces quatre-vingt-dix lieues, approchant de la 
largeur de la Seine devant Paris, la ou elle se contient dans 
son lit; mais en divers endroits comme a Pimiteoui, une 
lieue a Test de Crevecoeur et deux ou trois autres fois au 
dessous, elle s'eslargit jusqu a une et deux lieues et en beau- 
coup d'endroits, ou les deux costeaux qui la costoyent depuis 
le village des Islinois s'esloignent d'environ une demy-lieue 
Tun de l'autre. 

[Translation] 

The Illinois River, wherever it keeps within its 

bed, is for these ninety leagues almost always of the same 
width, approximating the width of the Seine before Paris. 
But at various places, as at Pimiteoui, a league to the east 
of Crevecoeur, and at two or three other times below, it is 
enlarged to one or two leagues and in many places where 
the two lines of hills which border it from the site of the 
village of the Illinois are distant from each other about half 
a league. 

E: La Salle's account of journey from Fort de Creve- 
coeur. From Margry, Decouvertes et Etablisse- 
ments de Francais, II, 55. 

Cependant l'hyver estant beaucoup plus long qu'a l'ordi- 
naire et les glaces ostant la communication avec le village 



29 

ou estoit le bled d'Inde en cache, les vivres commengant a 
manquer a ceux qui travailloient au fort, je me determinay 
a partir pour trouver moyen de les en pourveoir. Je m'em- 
barquay avec six Francois et un Sauvage dans deux canots, 
la riviere estant libre devant le fort; mais nous n'eusmes 
pas marche une heure que nous la trouvasmes glacee. Je 
croyois que le peu de courant qu'il y avoit en cet endroit 
estoit cause que les glaces y duroient plus longtemps, et, ne 
voulant pas quitter mes cantos que je voulois renvoyer 
chargez de bled d'Inde au fort quand je serois arrive au 
village, je fis esperer a mes gens qu'a la fin de ce lac glace le 
courant auroit pourri les glaces, et que nous aurions le pas- 
sage libre. Nous fismes deux traisneaux et mismes nostre 
equipage et nos canots dessus, et traisnasmes le tout 
jusqu'au bout du lac, a sept ou huit lieues de long. La 
riviere se trouva le lendemain couverte de glaces environ 
quatre lieues durant au dela du lac, qui estoient trop foibles 
pour marcher dessus et trop fortes pur les pouvoir casser 
et pour y exposer des canots d'escorce. Nous passasmes 
done cette journee, 2 de Mars, a porter tout par terre dans 
la neiga jusqu'a my-jambe et a travers des bois, et arrivas- 
mes le soir a des cabanes Sauvages ou nous nous mismes a 
couvert de la pluye qui tomba toute la nuit en grande quan- 
tite. 

[Translation] 

However, the winter being much longer than ordinarily 
and the ice preventing communication with the village where 
the Indian corn was en cache, the provisions began to fail 
those who were working at the fort, and I determined to 
set out in order to find means of providing for them. I 
embarked with six Frenchmen and a savage in two canoes, 
the river being free before the fort; but we had not travelled 
an hour when we found it frozen. I believe that the little 
current that was present in that part was the cause of the 
ice remaining there so long; and not wishing to part with 
my canoes that I wished to send back to the fort loaded 



30 

with Indian corn when I should arrive at the village, I en- 
couraged my men to hope that at the end of the frozen 
lake the current would have rotted the ice, and we should 
have a free passage. We made two sleds and put our equip- 
ment and our boats upon them and dragged the whole to 
the end of the lake, which was seven or eight leagues in 
length. On the following day, we found the river for 
about four leagues beyond the lake covered with ice, which 
was too weak to travel upon and too strong to break and to 
expose to it the bark canoes. We passed, therefore, this 
day, the second of March, in carrying everything by land 
through the snow, which was knee deep, and across the 
wood; and we arrived in the evening at some Indian huts, 
where we sought shelter from the rain which fell in great 
quantity all night. 

APPENDIX II : Testimony of the writer of the 

"Official Account" of the enter- 
prises of Cavelier de La Salle. 

A: The building of Fort de Crevecoeur. From Mar- 
gry, Decouvertes et Etablissements des Francais, I, 
476-477. 

Un grand degel estant survenu le IS Janvier et ayant 
rendu la riviere libre au-dessous du village, le sieur de La 
Salle se rendit avec tous ses canots au lieu qu'il avoit choisy 
pour y faire un fort. C'estoit un petit tertre esloigne d'en- 
viron deux cents pas du bord de la riviere qui s'estendoit 
jusqu'au pied dans le temps des grandes pluyes. Deux 
ravines larges et profondes fortifioient deux autres costez, 
et une partie du quatriesme, que le sieur de La Salle fit 
achever de retrancher par un fosse qui joignoit ensemble les 
deux ravines. II fit border leur talus exterieur, qui luy ser- 
voit de contrescarpe, de bons chevaux de frise. II fit 
escarper de tous costez cette eminence, dont il fit soutenir 
la terre autant qu'il luy estoit necessaire par de fortes pieces 
de bois avec des madriers, et il fit planter autour, de peur de 



31 

quelque surprise, une palissade dont les pieux estoient longs 
de vingt pieds, et gros a proportion. II laissa le haut du 
tertre en sa figure naturelle, qui formoit un quarre irregu- 
lier, et il se contenta de le border d'un bon parapet de terre, 
capable de couvrir ses gens, dont il fit faire le logement 
dans des angles de ce fort, afin qu'ils fussent toujours prests 
en cas d'attaque. Les Recollects furent logez dans le 
troisiesme. Le magasin, solidement construit, fut place 
dans le quatriesme, et la forge, le long de la courtine qui 
regardoit le bois. Pour luy, il se posta au milieu avec le 
sieur de Tonty. 

[Translation] 

A great thaw having occurred on January 15 and having 
rendered the river free below the village, Sieur de la Salle 
proceeded with all his canoes to the place where he had 
chosen to build a fort. It was a little hillock at a distance 
of about 200 paces from the bank of the river which ex- 
tended to the foot during severe rains. Two wide and deep 
ravines fortified two other sides and a part of the fourth, 
which the Sieur de la Salle caused to be completely cut off 
by a ditch which joined together the two ravines. He 
caused their opposite slopes, which served him as a counter- 
scarp, to be bordered with good chevaux-de-frise. He 
caused all sides of this elevation to be cut into a steep slope, 
the earth of which he caused to be supported, so far as there 
was need of it, by strong pieces of wood with madriers. For 
fear of some surprise, he caused to be planted all around a 
palisade whose posts were twenty feet in length and as thick 
in proportion. He left the top of the hillock in its natural 
shape, which formed an irregular square, and he satisfied 
himself with bordering it with a good parapet of earth, 
capable of covering his men, for whom he caused the lodg- 
ment to be built in some angles of this fort, in order that 
they might be always ready in case of attack. The Recol- 
lects were lodged in the third angle. The store-house solidly 



32 

constructed, was placed in the fourth, and the forge, along 
the curtain which faces the wood. As for him, he stationed 
himself with the Sieur de Tonti in the middle. 

B : Site for the fort. From Margry, Decouvertes et 
Etablissements des Francais, I, 488-489. 

il partit le er du mois de Mars avec six des plus 

robustes de ses gens et un Sauvage, en deux canots. 

Le courant, assez rapide, tenoit la riviere libre de glaces 
aupres du fort Mais apres une lieue de navigation et a 
l'entree d'un eslargissement ou d'un lac de huit lieues de 
long, que forme la riviere, ils la trouverent glacee. Le sieur 
de La Salle, qui ne vouloit pas abandonner ses canots, ayant 
dessein de les renvoyer au fort chargez de bled d'Inde, dit 
a ses gens qu'au bout de ce lac, le courant auroit fondu les 
glaces et leur ouvriroit le passage. Ainsi ils resolurent de 
faire deux traisneaux sur lesquels ils mirent leurs canots et 
tout leur equipage, et les traisnerent sur las neige jusqu'au 
bout du lac. Ils y trouverent, le lendemain, la riviere 
couverte de glace trop foible pour pouvoir marcher dessus, 
et trop forte pour y exposer des canots d'escorce. Ils furent 
done contrains de porter les canots et tout le reste durant 
quatre lieues, tousjours dans la neige jusqu'a mi-jambes, et a 
travers les bois. Ils arriverent le soir a des cabanes des 
Sauvages, ou ils se mirent a couvert d'une forte pluye qui 
tomba toute la nuit. 

[Translation] 

... he set out on the first of the month of March with six 
of the most robust of his men and one savage, in two 
canoes. 

The current, rather rapid, kept the river near the fort 
free from ice; but after a league of navigation and at the 
entrance of an enlargement, or of a lake, some eight leagues 
long, that the river forms, they found it frozen. Sieur de la 
Salle, who did not wish to abandon his canoes, having 
planned to send them back, loaded with Indian corn to the 



33 

forts, told his men that at the end of this lake, the current 
would have melted the ice and opened their passage. So 
they resolved to make two sleds on which they loaded their 
canoes and their equipment, and dragged them through the 
snow to the end of the lake. They found there, the follow- 
ing day, the river covered with ice too weak to travel upon 
and too strong to expose to it the bark canoes. They were 
therefore forced to carry the canoes and all the rest for a 
distance of four leagues, always through the knee-deep 
snow and across the woods. They arrived in the evening at 
some Indians' huts where they sheltered themselves from a 
hard rain which fell all night. 

APPENDIX III : Henri de Tonti's Testimony. 
A: Tonti's account of Fort de Crevecoeur. From 
Margry, Decoavertes et Etablissements des Fran- 
cais, I, 583. 

Le 15, ayant trouve un lieu propre pour faire bastir une 
barque de quarante tonneaux, pour descendre le Mississipy 
ou fleuve Colbert, Ton y construisit un fort qui fut nomme 
Crevecoeur, et Ton travailla a une barque de quarante ton- 
neaux. 

[Translation] 

The 15th [of January], having found a place fitted for 
having a boat of forty tons built to descend the Mississippi 
or Colbert River, they constructed there a fort which was 
named Crevecoeur and they worked on a boat of forty tons. 
B : Tonti's account of Fort de Crevecoeur. From Illi- 
nois Historical Collections, I, 131. 
As it was necessary to fortify ourselves during the winter 
we made a fort which was called Crevecoeur. 

C: Tonti's testimony on open water, November 14, 
1694. From Margry, Decouvertes et Etablisse- 
ments des Francais, I, 595. 
Apres nous traisnasmes nostre equipage soixante-dix 
lieues, scavoir vingt sur la riviere de Chicago et cinquante 



34 

sur celle des Illinois. Estant arrivez au fort de Contrecoeur 
(sic) , nous y trouvasmes la navigation, et comme plusieurs 
de nos Sauvages furent obligez de faire plusieurs canots 
d'escorce d'orme, cela fut cause que nous n'arrivasmes que 
le 6 Fevrier au fleuve de Mississipi, qui fut nomme Colbert 
par M. de La Salle. 

[Translation] 

After we dragged our equipage seventy leagues, namely 
twenty on the Chicago River and fifty on that of the Illinois, 
having arrived at Fort de Crevecoeur, we found there open 
navigation; and as several of our Indians were obliged to 
make several elm-bark canoes, that was the cause that we 
arrived only on February 6 at the Mississippi River, which 
was named Colbert by M. de la Salle. 

APPENDIX IV: Testimony of Father Zenobe 

Membre. 

A: Father Membre's description of Lake Pimiteoui. 
From Le Clercq, Establishment of the Faith 

(Translated by J. G. Shea), II, 118-119. 

They left it on the 1st of January, 1680, and by the 4th 
were thirty leagues lower down amid the camp of the Illi- 
nois; they were encamped on both sides of the river, which 
is very narrow there, but very near there forms a lake about 
seven leagues long and one wide, called Pimiteoui, meaning 
in their language that there are plenty of fat beasts in that 
spot. The Sieur de la Salle estimated it at thirty-three 
degrees forty-five minutes. It is remarkable because the 
Illinois River, which for several months in winter is frozen 
down to it, never is from this place to the mouth, although 
navigation is interrupted in places by accumulations of float- 
ing ice from above. 



35 

B : Father Membre's Description of Fort Crevecoeur. 
From Le Clercq, Establishment of the Faith 
(Translated by Shea), II, 123. 

With this assurance the little army, on the 14th of Jan- 
uary, 1680, the floating ice from above having ceased, 
repaired to a little eminence, a pretty strong position, near 
the Illinois camp, where the Sieur de la Salle immediately 
set to work to build a fort, which he called Crevecoeur, on 
account of many vexations that he experienced there, but 
which never shook his firm resolve. The fort was well 
advanced and the little vessel already up to the string-piece 
by the first of March, when he resolved to make a journey 
to Fort Frontenac. 

C: Father Membre's account of La Salle's journey to 
the east. From Le Clercq, Establishment of the 
Faith (Translated by Shea), II, 129-131. 

Father Louis having set out on the 29th of February, 
1680, the Sieur de la Salle left the Sieur de Tonty as com- 
mandant of Fort Crevecoeur with ammunition and pro- 
visions, and peltries to pay the workmen, as has been 
agreed, and merchandise to trade with and buy provisions 
as they were needed; and having lastly given orders as to 
what was to be done in his absence, he set out with four 
Frenchmen and one Indian on the 2d of March, 1680. He 
arrived on the 11th at the great Illinois village where I 
then was, and thence, after twenty-four hours' stay, he con- 
tinued his route on foot over the ice to Fort Frontenac. 
From our arrival at Fort Crevecoeur, on the 14th of Janu- 
ary past, Father Gabriel, our Superior, Father Louis, and 
myself, had raised a cabin, in which we had established 
some little regularity, exercising our functions as mission- 
aries towards the French of our party, and towards the 
Illinois Indians, who came in crowds. As by the end of Feb- 
ruary I already knew a part of their language, because I 
spent the whole of the day in the Indian camp, which was 



36 

but half a league off, 1 our Father-Superior appointed me to 
follow them when they began to return to their village. A 
chief named Oumahouha had adopted me as his son in the 
Indian fashion, and Monsieur de la Salle had made him 
presents in order that he might take good care of me. 
Father Gabriel resolved to stay at the fort with the Sieur 
de Tonty and the workmen. 

APPENDIX V: Father Hennepin's Testimony. 

A: Description of Lake Pimiteoui. From Hennepin, 
Description de la Louisiane, 140-141. 

Sur la fin du quatrieme jour en traversant un petit Lac qui 
forme la Riviere, on remarqua des fumees qui firent con- 
noistre que les Sauvages estoient cabannez pres de-la : En 
effet, le cinquieme sur les neuf heures du matin on vit des 
duex cotez de la Riviere quantite de Peroquets, & environ 
quatre-vingts Cabannes pleines de Sauvages qui n'apper- 
ceurent nos Canots qu'apres que nous eumes double une 
pointe, derriere laquelle les Illinois estoient campez a demie 
portee du fusil, nous estions dans huit Canots sur une ligne, 
tous nos gens les armes a la main, & nous laissans aller au 
courant de la Riviere. 

^Translation^ 

At the end of the fourth day while crossing a little lake 
which the river forms, we noticed some smoke which in- 
formed us that the Savages were cabined near there. In 
fact, on the fifth at nine o'clock in the morning, we saw on 
the two sides of the river a quantity of pirogues and about 
eighty cabins full of savages who saw our canoes only after 
we had doubled a point behind which the Illinois were en- 
camped at the distance of half a gun shot. We were in 



•Investigators have attempted to use this statement in determining the site of Fort de 
Crevecoeur, but an "Indian camp" was very changeable. The passage offers no certain point 
from which to measure. Of course Indians pitched their temporary camps in the vicinity of 
Fort de Crevecoeur, wherever it mav have been situated. That the camp here referred to can- 
not be identified with the Indian village of Pimeteoui is evident. 



37 

eight canoes drawn up in line, all our men having their arms 
in hand; we allowed the canoes to float with the current of 
the river. 

B : Hennepin describes Lake Pimiteoui. From Henne- 
pin, Nouvelle decouverte d'un tres grand pays situe 
dans VAmerique, entre le Nouveau Mexique, et la 
Mer Glaciate . .., 199-200. 
Sur la fin du quatrieme jour de Fan nous traversames un 
petit Lac long d'environ sept lieues, & large d'une, nomme 
Pimiteoui, ce qui signifie en leur langue, qu'il y a en cet 
endroit, beaucoup de betes grasses. Le Sieur de la Salle 
jugea par l'Astrolabe, qu'il etoit a trente trois degrez quar- 
ante cinq minutes. Ce Lac est fort remarquable, en ce que 
la Riviere des Illinois etant glacee jusques la ce qui ne dure 
que quatre ou cinq Semines, & n'arrive que rarement, elle 
ne Test jamais depuis cet endroit jusqu'a son embouchure 
dans Meschasipi. 

[Translation] 

At the end of the fourth day of the year we crossed a 
little lake, in length about seven leagues and in width one, 
named Pimiteoui which signifies in their language that there 
is, in this place, an abundance of fat beasts. The Sieur de 
la Salle judged by the astrolabe that the latitude was thirty- 
three degrees forty-five minutes. This lake is very remark- 
able because the river of the Illinois although it freezes as 
far as there — this lasts only four or five weeks and hap- 
pens only rarely — is never frozen from this place down to 
its discharge into the Mississippi. 

C: Hennepin describes Fort de Crevecoeur. From 
Hennepin, Description de la Louisiane, 166ff. 

. . . ces raisons & quelque autres sembables que je leur dis 
les persuaderent, & les engagerent tous de bonne grace a 
la construction d'un Fort que Ton nomma Creve-coeur scitue 
a quatre journees du grand Village des Illinois descendant 
vers le Fleuve Colbert. 



38 

Un grand degel estant survenu le quinze de Janvier, & 
ayant rendu la Riviere libre au dessous du Village, le Sieur 
de la Salle me pria de l'accompagner, & nous nous rendi'mes 
avec un de nos Canots au lieu que nous allions choisir pour 
travailler a ce petit Fort: c'estoit un petit tertre eloigne 
d'environ deux cens pas du bord de la Riviere qui s'etendoit 
jusques au pied dans le temps des pluyes, deux ravines larges 
& profondes fortifioent deux autres costez, & une partie du 
quatrieme que Ton fit achever de retrancher par un fosse qui 
joignoit ensemble les deux ravines, on fit border leur Talus 
exterieur qui luy servoit de Contrescarpe, on fit des Chevaux 
de frize, & escarper de tous cotez cette eminence, & on fit 
soiitenir la terre autant qu'il estoit necessaire par de fortes 
pieces de bois avec de Madriers, & on fit planter au tour de 
peur de quelque surprise une Pallissade dont les pieux 
estoient longs de vingt-cinq pieds & d'un pied d'espaisseur, 
on laissa le haut du tertre en sa figure naturelle qui formoit 
un quarre irregulier, & on se contenta de le border d'un bon 
Parapet de terre capable de couvrir tout notre monde dont 
on fit faire le Logement dans deux des Angles de ce Fort 
afin qu'ils fussent toujours prests en cas d'attaque, les Peres 
Gabriel, Zenoble & moy nous nous logeames dans une 
Cabanne couverte de planches que nous ajustames avec nos 
Ouvriers, & dans laquelle nous nous retirions apres le tra- 
vail, tout notre monde pour la Priere du soir & du matin, & 
ou ne pouvans plus dire la Messe, le vin que nous avions fait 
du gros raisin du pais nous venant a manquer, nous nous 
contentions de chanter les Vespres les Festes & Dimanches, 
& de faire la Predication apres les Prieres du matin, on mit 
la Forga le long de la courtine qui regardoit le bois, le Sieur 
de la Salle se posta au milieu avec le Sieur de Tonty, & Ton 
fit abattre du bois pour faire du charbon pour le Forgeron. 

[ Translation] 

. . . these reasons and some similar ones, which I told 
them, persuaded them, and they all willing agreed to the 
construction of a fort which we named Creve-coeur [sic~\, 



39 

situated at four days journey from the great village of the 
Illinois as one journeys toward the river Colbert. [Missis- 
sippi]. 

A great thaw having occurred on January 15 and having 
rendered the river free below the village, the Sieur de la 
Salle asked me to accompany him and we proceeded with 
one of our canoes to the place which we were going to 
choose for the construction of this little fort. It was a little 
hillock at a distance of about two hundred paces from the 
bank of the river which extended to the foot during severe 
rains. Two wide and deep ravines fortified two other sides 
and a part of the fourth which we caused to be completely 
cut off by a ditch which joined together the two ravines. 
We caused their opposite slopes to be bordered which 
served him [sic] as a counterscarp, we made chevaux-de- 
frise, 2 and caused all sides of this elevation to be cut into a 
steep slope, and we caused the earth to be supported, so far 
as there was need of it, by strong pieces of wood with 
madriers. For fear of some surprise, we caused to be 
planted a palisade whose posts were twenty-five feet long 
and a foot in thickness. We left the top of the hillock in its 
natural shape which formed an irregular square, and we 
satisfied ourselves with bordering it with a good parapet of 
earth capable of covering all our people for whom we 
caused the lodgment to be built in two of the angles of this 
fort in order that they might always be ready in case of 
attack. The Fathers Gabriel, Zenoble [sic], and I were 
lodged in the cabin covered with planks which we, with our 
workers fixed up and into which we retired after work and 
all of our people for evening & morning prayer, and when 
we could no longer read Mass, after the wine, which we 
had made from the large grape of the country, failed us, 



2 The relation between Hennepin's Description de la Loutstane and the "Official Account 
(Appendix II) has often been pointed out. There certainly has been copying by someone. 
The error made by Hennepin in this sentence, as can be seen by comparing it with the Official 
Account ' (Appendix II, A) leaves no doubt that he did the copying and that he was a careless 
copyist at that. 



40 

we contented ourselves with singing the Vespers, Feasts, 
and Sundays and with preaching after morning prayers. 
We placed the forge along the curtain which faced the 
woods. The Sieur de la Salle with Sieur de Tonti placed 
himself in the middle; and we had wood brought to make 
charcoal for the forge. 2 

D : Hennepin describes the Indian villages. From Hen- 
nepin, Nonvelle decouverte d'un tres grand pays 
situe dans l } Amerique, . . 197. 

Le plus grand Village des Illinois est compose de quatre 
ou cinq cens Cabannes, chacune de cinq ou six feux. Ces Vil- 
lages son situez dans une plaine un peu marecageuse a 
quarante degrez de latitude sur la rive droite d'une Riviere 
aussi large que la Meuse Test devant Namur. 

[Translation] 

The largest village of the Illinois is composed of four or 
five hundred cabins, each of five or six fires. These villages 
are situated in a plain, a little marshy, at forty degrees of 
latitude on the right bank of a river as wide as the Meuse 
that is in front of Namur. 

E : Hennepin's description of the fort. From Hennepin, 
Nouvelle decouverte d'un tres grand pays situe dans 
I' Amerique, .... 223. 

II faut remarquer ici, que quelque hyver, qu'il fasse dans 
les Contrees de ce charmant Pays des Illinois, il ne dure que 
deux mois tout au plus. Et en effet le 15. de Janvier il sur- 
vint un grand degel, qui rendit la Riviere libre au dessous 
du Village, ou nous etions. Nous nous trouvames done tout 
d'un coup comme dans une espece de printemps. Le Sieur 
de la Salle me pria de l'accompagner. Nous nous rendimes 
donee en Canot au lieu, que nous allions choisir pour 
travailler a ce Fort. 

C'etoit un peitt tertre elogne d'environ deux cens pas du 
bord de la Riviere, laquelle s'etendoit jusqu'au pied dans le 
temps des pluyes. Deux ravines larges & profondes forti- 



41 

fioient les deux autres cotez de cette petite eminence. On 
acheva de retrancher une partie du quatrieme par un fosse, 
qui joignoit ensemble les deux ravines. On fit border leur 
talus exterieur, qui servoit de contrescarpe par des 
Chevaux de Frize, & ensuite on escarpa cette eminence de 
tous costez. On en fit soutenir la terre autant qu'il etoit 
necessaire, par de fortes pieces de bois, & par des Madriers. 
On fit faire le logement a deux des Angles de ce Fort, afin 
que nos gens fussent toujours prests en cas d'attaque. Les 
Peres Gabriel, Zenobe & moy nous logeames dans une 
Cabanne couverte de planches, que nous ajustames avec nos 
Ouvriers. Nous nous y retirions apres le travail avec tout 
notre monde pour la priere du soir, de meme que nous trou- 
vions le matin pour le meme sujet. Nous ne pouvions plus 
dire la Messe, par ce que le Vin, que nous avions fait des 
gros Raisins du pays, avoit manque. Nous nous contentions 
de chanter les Vespres les jours de festes, & les Dimanches, 
& nous faisions la predication apres les prieres du matin. 
On mit la forge le long de la Courtine, qui regardoit le bois. 
Le Sieur de la Salle se posta au milieu de Fort avec Sieur de 
Tonty, & on fit abbattre du bois pour en faire du Charbon 
pour la forge. 

[Translation] 

It is necessary to note here, that whatever winter that 
occurs in the region of this charming country of the Illinois, 
lasts, only two months at the most. And, in fact, on the 
15th of January a great thaw followed, which rendered the 
river free below the village, where we were. We found 
ourselves, then, suddenly in a sort of spring. The Sieur 
de la Salle asked me to accompany him. We went, then, in 
a canoe to the place that we were going to choose for the 
construction of this fort. 

It was a little hillock at a distance of about two hundred 
paces from the edge of the river, which extended up to the 
foot in time of rains. Two wide and deep ravines fortified 
the two other sides of this little elevation. We finished cut- 



42 

ting off a part of the fourth by a ditch which joined to- 
gether the two ravines. We caused their exterior slopes, 
which served him as counterscarp, to be bordered with 
some chevaux-de-frise, and then cut down this eminence on 
all sides. We caused the earth to be supported, as much 
as it was necessary, by strong pieces of wood and by 
madriers. 

We caused a lodgment to be built in two angles of this 
fort, so that our men were always ready in case of attack. 
The Fathers Gabriel, Zenobe and I lodged ourselves in a 
cabin covered with planks which we, with our workers, 
adjusted. We retired there after work with our people for 
evening prayer; likewise, we met in the morning for the 
same reason. We were not able to say Mass because of the 
wine, which we had made from the large grape of the 
country, had failed. We satisfied ourselves with chanting 
the vespers, the days of feasts, and Sundays, and we deliv- 
ered the sermon after the morning prayers. We placed the 
forge along the curtain which faced the wood. The Sieur 
de la Salle stationed himself with Sieur de Tonti in the 
middle of the fort and we caused wood to be carried in 
order to make charcoal for the forge. 




Uithomount 

Pamphlet 
Binder 

Gaylota Bros. 

Makers 



^ 



w& 



Y¥< 



W